know what you drink


A Brief History, and a Request

In June 2014, I had the honor of beginning my communications with Dr. Lebot.  With his guidance, I was able to develop an advanced version of the acetone test for kava, using spectroscopy rather than subjective judgement.  In July 2014 the first acetone test results were published, indicating fairly widespread adulteration of purportedly noble kava with two day kava.

This news was not well received by some vendors, but proved revealing to many consumers, explaining the unpredictable and often unpleasant effects they were experiencing with some products.  As testing progressed improvement was seen, but the not yet standardized test method proved controversial.  To reinforce the validity of the results and to provide more comprehensive information about the kava we are drinking, the decision was made to add HPLC testing.

All necessary equipment was in place as of October 2014, and after much consultation and guidance, the first HPLC chemotype and kavalactone percentage results were published in December of that year.  These results appear on this site, and are periodically updated to accurately reflect what is available from vendors today.

Samples are currently accepted from anyone wishing to have their kava tested: consumers, growers, wholesalers, retailers, and any other interested parties.  Test results of commercially available products are published.  In keeping with our goals and our desire to promote safe kava use, these tests are provided without charge.      

But there is another side to testing that is not apparent, but equally important.  When retailers are seeking kava to import, they often receive samples from kava wholesalers in the South Pacific.  It is not uncommon for them to receive ten to twenty samples from various wholesalers.  In the past, such samples were usually just "taste tested" for effects, and not subjected to lab tests due to expense, which can easily exceed $300 per sample when performed at a commercial lab.

Since its inception, T.K. Group Labs has had the honor of testing such samples not only for our Certified Vendors, but also for prospective new vendors, and for current retailers who are undecided about full participation in the True Kava Group.   

Currently, only three in ten of these samples prove to be of a quality that leading experts would deem suitable for routine consumption.  We believe this strongly reinforces the need for organizations such as the True Kava Group. 

Our work is professionally reviewed and suitable for FDA submission, but since we do not maintain a commercial facility and all work is done by volunteers, our costs are much lower than other labs.  Still, the costs are not negligible; including method development, research projects, and consumer and vendor submitted samples, we have performed nearly 2000 individual tests to date, at an average cost for materials of $2.00 per test.  ​Our funding in the past has been provided by unsolicited donations from members, but due to greatly increased interest we now find it necessary to ask for your help.  If you believe in our work and would like to contribute, you may do so above by click the "donate" button.              

Thank you,

Garry Stoner

T.K. Group Labs

"The man who drinks kava is still a man, but the man who drinks liquors becomes a beast."
(Traditional Hawaiian proverb)